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Parenting

Is Your Child Becoming an Emotional Eater?

2:00

You may be tempted to appease your child with food after a fall or tears for short-term relief, but this could actually set your child up for long-term unhealthy eating patterns.

What happens is that children begin to identify eating with self-comforting or relieving boredom instead of nutrition or eating when they’re actually hungry.

Almost all children, teens, and adults may engage in emotional eating at one time or another.

Hunger associated with emotional eating comes on quickly and feels urgent. It's often triggered by a specific event or mood. It's not like typical physical hunger, which gradually builds and is a result of an empty stomach. Physical hunger can be satisfied by a number of different foods, but cravings usually involve particular foods. Examples might be ice cream or candy after a fight with a friend or a tough day at school.

Why is emotional eating unhealthy? Emotional eating isn’t really about hunger or nutrition; it’s about filling an emotional need. It can lead to overeating and over time, lead to extra weight gain or obesity. It also sets up a pattern of handling uncomfortable situations by eating instead of by learning how to solve social and psychological problems.

There are lots of reasons kids may seek out food for comfort such as:

  • Anger
  • Boredom
  • Change
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Resentment
  • Stress

Even positive emotions such as excitement and happiness can result in emotional eating once it becomes a go-to as a reward. 

If you notice signs of emotional eating in your child, talk to him or her about your concerns. Be gentle. Stay positive. Helping your child might be as simple as having a warm and loving conversation.

Help your child develop a healthy response to his or her problems, such as focusing on solutions. Encourage your child to talk about the emotions that trigger his or her emotional eating. Brainstorm other ways to deal with those emotions. For example, your child could exercise or become involved in sports when he or she feels stressed out, or call a friend when he or she is bored.

Emotional eating can be learned, so your influence as a parent or primary caregiver is one key to prevention. Be sure to model healthy eating habits for your child. Also, avoid using food to celebrate occasions or to reward your child for good behavior. Instead, use verbal praise and give other types of rewards (for example, stickers for a young child or a fun activity with an older child).

There are signs you can look for in children to let you know if your child is an emotional eater. They are:

  • Eating in response to emotions or situations, not to satisfy hunger
  • Feeling an urgent need to eat
  • Craving a specific food or type of food
  • Eating a larger amount of food than usual
  • Eating at unusual times of day (for example, late at night)
  • Gaining excess weight
  • Feeling embarrassed or guilty about eating
  • "Sneaking" food during high-stress times
  • Hiding empty containers of food

A recent study from Norway found that kids offered food for comfort at ages 4 and 6 displayed more emotional eating at ages 8 and 10.

Also, the researchers found signs that kids who felt more easily comforted by food were fed more by parents for that purpose.

Emotional eating typically starts early in life but can really begin at any age; it seems like an easy fix for anxiety at the time, but can lead to health problems if not brought under control.

Story source: https://familydoctor.org/emotional-eating-in-children-and-teens/

Your Child

Why Kids Should Learn Handwriting

1:45

I think it’s fair to say that handwriting is becoming a lost art. Computers, tablets and phone keyboards have made actual writing with a pen and paper almost obsolete.

What was once an integral part of a child’s daily school lessons, today, gets about one-fourth the instruction time. What is surprising is that in the not too far future, some kids may never learn penmanship at all.

If keyboards become the most popular form of communication, is there really a need for printing and cursive skills? Yes, according to some educators. Not only will children lose the personal touch of handwriting but will they also lose the benefits learning penmanship offers the developing brain.

Putting pen to paper stimulates brain circuits involved with memory, attention, motor skills, and language in a way punching a keyboard doesn't.

"There is this assumption that we live in the computer age, and we don't need handwriting anymore. That's wrong," says Virginia Berninger, PhD, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington.

Indiana University psychologist Karin James, PhD, recently published a study looking at brain scans of preschoolers before and after they learned to produce letters, either by printing or typing. Before the lesson, the children couldn't decipher between a random shape and a letter, and their brains responded similarly to each. After they learned to hand-draw a letter, brain regions needed for reading lit up at the sight of the letter like they do in a literate adult. Learning to type a letter yielded no such change.

Other studies have shown that preschoolers that practice handwriting read better in elementary school.

Handwriting also requires concentration and teaches brain circuits responsible for motor coordination, vision, and memory to work together. "If in the future we were to take away teaching handwriting altogether, I worry there could be real negative impacts on children's development," James says.

Timed right, cursive also comes with some unique advantages. Berninger's research suggests kids who link their letters via cursive get a better handle on what those words look like and end up being better spellers, she says. Cursive also allows them to compose their thoughts faster than in block handwriting or via typing (at least until about seventh grade, when their brains become mature enough to manage two-handed typing quickly).

Berninger says parents can offer their children extra guidance with learning handwriting even before their child begins school and through their early years. Some children may learn these skills quicker and some may need a little more practice. But on an average:

Preschoolers can strengthen motor skills by playing with clay, stringing beads, working through mazes, and connecting dots with arrows to form letters.

From kindergarten through second grade, children should master block letters.

Third to fourth grade is when kids can begin and master cursive.

By fifth grade, children should continue to write by hand while being introduced to typing by touch (not just hunt and peck.)

As I’ve become more accustomed to using my computer or phone to communicate with others, I’ve noticed that my own handwriting skills are beginning to suffer. Cursive isn’t as fluid and readable as when I handwrote more often and my eye, hand and pen coordination isn’t near as comfortable as it used to be. 

I hope future generations will not lose the art of handwriting, not only because of the developmental benefits it offers, but because each person’s handwriting is unique to them.

Story source: Lisa Marshall, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/handwriting-matters-kids#1

Your Child

Kids Who Specialize In One Sport Have More Injuries

Kids who came to the clinic with injuries played organized sports an average of 11 hours a week, compared with fewer than nine hours in the uninjured group. Although the researchers did not specifically look at this, Jayanthi said he has noticed that more highly specialized sports such as tennis, gymnastics and dance tend to be linked to more severe overuse injuries.Because a child’s body is still growing, children who specialize in only one sport suffer repetitive injuries more often, a new study says.

In fact, kids are twice as likely to get hurt –playing just one sport- as those who play multiple sports said Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, medical director of primary care sports medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "We saw a pretty significant difference with this intensity of training, along with specialization," said Jayanthi. The findings are slated to be presented Monday at the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary. "It's been accepted for the last five years or so that kids who are not super-specific do better. They're cross-trained, so they're conditioned for other movements," said Dr. Kory Gill, an assistant professor at Texas A&;M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Jayanith’s research team had done earlier studies on 519 junior tennis players and found that the kids who only played tennis were more likely to get hurt. Jayanthi wanted to see if the same findings extended to other sports. "As a physician, you get frustrated seeing kids come in with injuries that keep them out for two to three months. It's devastating," said Jayanthi, who recently saw a young gymnast with a knee injury that will keep her off the mat for at least three months. Here, the researchers looked at 154 young athletes, average age 13, who played a variety of sports. Eighty-five of the participants came to the clinic for treatment for a sports injury, while 69 were just getting sports physicals. The investigation ranked each athlete on how specialized they were, basing the score on factors like how often they trained in one sport, whether they had given up other sports to practice just one, and if they trained 8 months a year or more to compete more than 6 months a year on one sport. What they discovered was that 60.4 percent of the athletes who had been injured were specialized in one sport, compared with only 31.3 percent who came in for physicals. Kids who came to the clinic with injuries played organized sports an average of 11 hours a week, compared with fewer than nine hours in the uninjured group. Although the researchers did not specifically look at this, Jayanthi said he has noticed that more highly specialized sports such as tennis, gymnastics and dance tend to be linked to more severe overuse injuries. Why did these injuries occur? "One reason is repetitive use of the same muscle group and stressors to growing areas, for example, the spine," explained Jayanthi, who stressed that the findings were preliminary. His team, in collaboration with Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, plans to enroll more athletes in follow-up research, and those athletes will be evaluated every six months for three years, to look more closely at how intense training can affect a young athlete's body during growth spurts. "Second is exposure risk," he added. "If you're getting really good at one sport, the intensity increases because you are getting better. People are developing adult-type sports skills in a child's body. The growing body probably doesn't tolerate this." Younger children -- those who have not entered high school -- tend to be especially vulnerable as their bodies are still growing, said Gill, who recommended that kids cross-train and condition for other movements, or just play another sport. "I tell parents to let kids be kids and play multiple sports," he said. "See what they're good at and what they enjoy." By high school, when bodies are more mature, specializing is safer, he added. When children play different sports in different seasons, they are using a wide range of motions and muscles. But when they begin playing one sport year-round, the risk of overuse injuries increases.

Your Teen

Kid's Poor Sleep Habits and Depression

1.50 to read

A 2010 study of 392 boys and girls published online in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that those who had trouble sleeping at 12 to 14 years old were more than two times as likely to have suicidal thoughts at ages 15 to 17 as those who didn't have sleep problems at the younger age.Scientists are discovering that children with chronic sleep problems are at increased risk for developing a mental illness later in life.

Recent studies show that children who have persistent sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or not getting enough night-time shut-eye, are more likely later to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders and to abuse alcohol and drugs than kids without sleep problems. The findings add to previous research that has linked children's sleep problems to a host of issues, including aggressive behavior, learning and memory problems and obesity. A 2010 study of 392 boys and girls published online in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that those who had trouble sleeping at 12 to 14 years old were more than two times as likely to have suicidal thoughts at ages 15 to 17 as those who didn't have sleep problems at the younger age. In a study published last year in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, involving 386 participants, children whose mothers reported that they were overtired when 3 to 8 years old were 2.8 times as likely to binge drink when they were 18 to 20 years old. And a study of 1,037 children revealed that 46% of those who were considered to have a persistent sleep difficulty at age 9 had an anxiety disorder at age 21 or 26. By comparison, of the children who didn't have sleep problems at age 9, 33% had an anxiety disorder as young adults, according to the research, which was published in 2005 in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Scientists caution that some study-sample sizes are small and research is still in its early stages. Psychiatrists and psychologists say they hope that by addressing sleep problems in childhood, some of the instances of later mental illness can be prevented. Clinicians also have developed effective treatments for poor sleep and are experimenting with some new approaches that teach kids how to reduce the frequency and strength of anxious thoughts that can crop up at night. In general, doctors do not recommend using medication to help kids sleep. "We think that healthy, optimal sleep may be a buffer against developing anxiety and depression in kids," says Ronald E. Dahl, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a leading researcher on pediatric sleep. Anxiety disorders and depression are the most common mental illnesses: 28.8% of the general population will have an anxiety disorder in their lifetime and 20.8% will have a mood disorder, according to a 2005 study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Anxiety disorders emerge early in life: The median age of onset is 11, according to the study. Rates of depression spike in adolescence, too. And those who develop depression young tend to have a more serious disease, with a higher risk of relapse. Scientists aren't certain as to why poor sleep in childhood increases the risk of anxiety disorders and depression. It could be that sleep problems lead to changes in the brain, which, in turn, contribute to the psychiatric illnesses, they say. Or some underlying issue, partly explained by genetics and early childhood experiences, could be a precursor to both poor sleep and the mental disorders. Researchers say that before puberty—between the ages of about 9 and 13—is a key time to tackle poor sleep. That's before the spike in rates of depression and the upheavals of adolescence and while the brain is still very responsive. "The brains of children are far more plastic and amenable to change," says Candice Alfano, assistant professor of psychology and pediatrics at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Sleep changes dramatically after puberty: Circadian rhythms shift so kids naturally stay up later. With schools starting early, kids often don't get enough sleep. Academic and social pressures surge, too. A small study suggested healthy sleep may be able to help protect kids from depression—even those at high-risk because of genetics. (Both anxiety disorders and depression are believed to be partly inherited.) The study, published in 2007 in the journal Development and Psychopathology, found that children who fell asleep quicker and spent more time in the deepest stage of sleep were less likely to develop depression as young adults. A larger body of research shows that improving sleep in kids and adults who already have mental-health problems also leads to a stronger recovery. A Good Night Most parents underestimate the amount of sleep children should get a day. They need: Infants: 14 to 15 hours Toddlers: 12 to 14 hours Preschoolers: 11 to 13 hours School-age kids: 10 to 11 hours Teenagers: 9 to 10 hours Strategies to encourage healthy sleep in kids Set a regular bedtime and wake time, even on weekends. Make the bedroom a dark and quiet oasis for sleep. No homework in bed. Create a calming bedtime routine. For younger kids: a bath and story. For older kids: Reading or listening to mellow music. Limit caffeine consumption, especially after 4 p.m. Ban technology (TV, Web surfing, texting) in the half hour before bed. The activities are stimulating. The light from a computer can interfere with the production of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin. Don't send kids to bed as punishment or allow them to stay up late as a reward for good behavior. This delivers a negative message about sleep. Help kids review happy moments from the day. Have them imagine a TV with a 'savoring channel.' Relegate anxious thoughts to 'a worry channel.'

Your Toddler

AAP: Winter Car Seat Safety

2:00

So far in Texas, this year’s El Nino weather pattern has made for a pretty mild winter compared to previous years. But, other areas around the country are being hit hard with a wintery punch and it’s only a matter of time till temperatures drop and snow and ice find their way to the Lone Star State.

Winter can be a bit tricky for child car seat use. While it sounds like the opposite might be true, bulky clothing such as coats and snowsuits should not be worn under the car seat harness.

More padding - more cushion right? That seems logical until you know what happens when a car crashes. In a wreck, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.

So how can you keep your little one warm and protected while buckled up? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has these tips to help strike a comfortable and safer balance.

·      Use a coat or blanket over the straps. You can add a blanket over the top of the harness straps or put your child's winter coat on backwards (over the buckled harness straps) after he or she is buckled up. Some parents prefer products such as poncho-style coats or jackets that zip down the sides so the back can flip forward over the harness. Keep in mind that the top layer should be removable so your baby doesn't get too hot after the car warms up.

·      Use a car seat cover ONLY if it does not have a layer under the baby. Nothing should ever go underneath your child's body or between her body and the harness straps. Be sure to leave baby's face uncovered to avoid trapped air and re-breathing. Many retailers carry car seat bundling products that are not safe to use in a car seat. Just because it's on the shelf at the store does not mean it is safe!

·      Dress your child in thin layers. Start with close-fitting layers on the bottom, like tights, leggings, and long-sleeved bodysuits. Then add pants and a warmer top, like a sweater or thermal-knit shirt. Your child can wear a thin fleece jacket over the top. In very cold weather, long underwear is also a warm and safe layering option. As a general rule of thumb, infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you have a hat and a coat on, your infant will probably need a hat, coat, and blanket.

·      Don't forget hats, mittens, and socks or booties. These help keep kids warm without interfering with car seat straps. If your child is a thumb sucker, consider half-gloves with open fingers or keep an extra pair or two of mittens handy — once they get wet they'll make your child colder rather than warmer.

·      Get an early start. If you're planning to head out the door with your baby in tow on winter mornings, you need an early start. You have a lot to assemble, and your baby may not be the most cooperative. Plus, driving in wintry conditions will require you to slow down and be extra cautious.

·      Tighten the straps of the car seat harness. Even if your child looks snuggly bundled up in the car seat, multiple layers may make it difficult to tighten the harness enough. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child's chest.

·      Remember, if the item did not come with the car seat, it has not been crash tested and may interfere with the protection provided in a crash. Never use sleeping bag inserts or other stroller accessories in the car seat.

·      Store the carrier portion of infant seats inside the house when not in use. Keeping the seat at room temperature will reduce the loss of the child's body heat in the car.

·      Pack an emergency bag for your car. Keep extra blankets, dry clothing, hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks in your car in case of an on-road emergency or your child gets wet on a winter outing.

·      Make sure your cell phone is charged. If there is an emergency, you want to be able to reach 911 or call for assistance in case of a flat tire or engine trouble.

This is a time when there is a lot of holiday travel from state to state or just down the road to grandma’s house.

Remember, it’s not just children in car seats whose coats shouldn’t be tucked under the harness, adults and older children should make sure their coats are on the outside of the seat-belt.

Little steps can make a big difference in everyone’s safety.

Source: https://healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Winter-Car-Seat-Safety-Tips.aspx

Your Child

40% of Children 3 to 11 Are Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

2:00

The good news is that exposure to secondhand smoke dropped by half in the United States between 1999 and 2012. While more and more people are giving up the unhealthy habit, the amount of children being exposed to secondhand smoke is still significant – particularly in the African-American population. 

In a recent report, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 58 million American nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke.

In that group, the CDC suggests that 40 percent of children aged 3 to 11 are breathing in secondhand smoke and among black children, the number is much higher at 70 percent.

"Secondhand smoke can kill, and too many Americans -- and particularly too many children -- are still exposed to secondhand smoke," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said during a midday press conference.

Frieden, citing the U.S. Surgeon General, said, "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke." Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals including about 70 that can cause cancer, he added.

The connection of secondhand smoke and illnesses in children has been widely studied and reported. In infants and children, secondhand smoke has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma attacks.

In adult nonsmokers, passive smoke has been tied to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, according to Frieden.

Each year, secondhand smoke kills more than 41,000 Americans from lung cancer and heart disease, and causes 400 deaths from SIDS, Frieden said. "These deaths are entirely preventable," he added.

Susan Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement: "The high level of child exposure to secondhand smoke also underscores the need for parents to take additional steps to protect children, such as ensuring that homes, cars and other places frequented by children are smoke-free. For parents who smoke, the best step to protect children is to quit smoking."

Smoking can become such a mindless habit that parents and caregivers forget that their children are breathing in the smoke they exhale. In nonsmoking homes, it can be difficult when friends or other family members want to light up when visiting. Asking people to either step outside or not smoke in the house has caused many a friends and family rift. But, standing your ground will protect your child from the influence of smoking and the polluted air that flows from a smoker.

Most restaurants, bars and workplaces have issued smoke-free policies but one's home and auto are open to personal choice. The number of U.S. households that are now smoke-free has increased in the past 20 years from 43 percent to 83 percent and that’s truly amazing considering our long love affair with cigarettes and cigars!

However, when 1 in 4 nonsmokers – including many children-are still being exposed, it’s going to take more parents, friends and family members to put down their cigarettes for good to finally stop children and adults from suffering the disastrous effects of breathing in secondhand smoke.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/58-million-americans-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-cdc-696149.html

Your Child

Helping Your Child Learn From Failure

2.30 to read

Do you immediately run to the rescue and try to save your child from failing? Many parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, neighbors, and school systems seem to believe that failure is simply not an option for a child these days. 

Perhaps because the idea of failure is often associated with pain and loss, parents naturally want to spare their child any suffering. It’s certainly a normal response to want to help your boy or girl achieve whatever they set out to do, but without disappointment your child’s chances of succeeding in the future diminish. Without failure, success rarely happens. Learning how to cope with disappointment, anger, frustration and sadness are a part of growing into a responsible person – whether you’re a child or an adult.

More important than not passing a test, not making the team, not being chosen for a part in the school play, not spelling a word correctly in a spelling bee, is learning how to cope with disappointment and embarrassment.

How your child responds to feelings of anger, frustration, embarrassment, sadness or low self-esteem will mostly depend on their age and maturity. Children can be taught positive coping skills that help them move past an uncomfortable event. Children also see how parents and others around them handle stress and failure. If we get angry, bossy, inconsolable, and don’t accept responsibility for our own actions, we teach our children to do the same.

Failure at one thing has often opened the door to accomplishments in other areas. Your child may not be accomplished enough to make a sports team, but he or she can run circles around others in math or science. Even though you’ve told your child they can sing like an angel since they were old enough to complete a sentence, others may find that he or she can’t really carry a tune. Your child most likely will not get the lead in the next school musical. And that’s okay. She may discover that her real talent is creating costumes out of raw material, or he may find out that nobody can build a stage set out of cardboard better than he can. Encouragement and praise for what your child can achieve goes a long way in helping them understand and deal with what they can’t achieve.

So, what if my child hasn’t discovered what they are innately good at doing? Life is not a race to excellence; it’s a process. Given enough time and experience, your child will discover his or her own hidden talent. It may take a few failures along the way to make that discovery.

Failure at first try, or second try, or many tries, can often motivate someone to practice harder, study longer, attempt a different approach or in other words – apply themselves more. Children can learn more about problem solving when they are allowed to experience different approaches.  Help your child evaluate what went wrong and how they can prevent it from occurring again by offering them choices. That’s a lot different than protecting them from experiencing the failure in the first place.

Through trial and error, then trying again and succeeding - our kids learn about patience, perseverance and satisfaction in their accomplishments.

Failure is not the opposite of success. “Failure is an event, not a person.” (Zig Ziglar) 

You’ve watched your child learn how to master sitting up, crawling, walking and eating with silverware. All along the way, a child has to make mistakes before they can get it right. Every time there was a fall or setback- most likely there was love and encouragement to try again. Parents that catch their child every time their little one loses his or her balance prevent them from ever finding their balance.

Success isn’t always about “winning.” It’s often about finding another path.

It may be painful to watch your daughter or son have to deal with an unpleasant or painful experience – but it’s something we all have to go through.  Bad relationships can help us value good relationships. Not being chosen can help us strike out on our own and discover the joy of self-reliance.

Childcare.about.com offers these tips for helping your child turn their failure into a lesson for success.

Help your child identify the emotions she feels and express those in an acceptable way. When your child is not successful, whether in the classroom or on the ball field, parents (or any adult caregiver for that matter) should be available to help them work through the emotions.

  • Give him an opportunity to talk about why he thinks things didn't go the way he wanted or expected them to go. Even youngsters can express their feelings, and one of the best things a parent can do is listen. Your child might even provide some insight into what happened that you were not aware of.
  • Provide age-appropriate activities that match your child's interests and skills. Too often, parents lose their way in expecting too much of a child at too young of an age. It really is okay if your child can't do a toe-touch in first grade or is unable to hit the ball off a tee at age 4.
  • Let your child know that winning isn't the most important thing. Give as much praise for his effort and his attitude as you do for a winning outcome.
  • Talk to your child about his strengths--the things that you observe as his positive traits. Conversations such as this can help build self-esteem in even a very young child.
  • Keep your expectations for your child reasonable and realistic. Don't expect your eight year old to master a piano piece by Beethoven in two days, just because her sister can.
  • Remember that your child watches how you respond to failures in your own life. It's okay to share your disappointment and important to show them how you learn from the experience.
  • Let your child know that you love him, win or lose. A big bear hug and a word of encouragement can ease the pain felt when he fails a test or falls down when learning how to ride his bike.

Parents can help their children mature and develop a strong character by helping them face and learn from their “failures.” Learning to fail at something with grace and grit can help your child develop into a more successful person.

Source: Robin McClure,  http://childcare.about.com/od/generaladvice/a/failing.htm

Your Child

Concussions May Have Long Term Impact on Kids’ Mental Health

1:45

There’s been a tremendous amount of information about concussions in the news lately. One question many parents want answered is, if my child suffers a concussion could it have an impact on his or her mental, physical or intellectual health for the rest of their lives?

The answer is yes according to a recent study, and for kids who have had more than one concussion; the risks are even higher that they will suffer repercussions into adulthood.

A report released by the health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, said diagnosed concussions among people under the age of 20 climbed 71 percent between 2010 and 2015. Part of that increase may be attributed to an improved awareness of the dangers of concussions, prompting coaches and parents to seek medical attention for athletes and kids.  However, the high numbers also suggest that more children are experiencing head injuries than in the past.

The data also showed that twice as many boys were diagnosed with concussion than girls, although the rates for girls increased by 119 percent during the dates examined.

While more general information about concussion is becoming abundant, the effects on the health of children into adulthood have largely remained unknown.

For the new study looking into the long-term effects, multiple data sources were reviewed including a valuable collection of records from Sweden.

A plethora of linked registries in that nation contain information about people’s medical and hospital visits, socioeconomic status, education, physical disabilities and other aspects of their lives, says Dr. Seena Fazel, a professor of forensic psychiatry at Oxford and the new study’s senior author. The registries also allow researchers to compile information about family members.

In this case, the scientists concentrated on all Swedes born between 1973 and 1985 and looked for those who had experienced a head injury of some kind before the age of 25. More than 104,000 people qualified. Researched reviewed data about these people for 40 years.

Along with each patient, researchers also compiled similar medical records for a sibling who had not been diagnosed with a head injury and compared the results between family members and the total population of the country.

The results of the study were unsettling. They found that young people who had experienced a single diagnosed concussion were more likely to be receiving medical disability payments as adults, to have at some point sought mental health care, were less likely to have graduated from high school or attended college and were twice as prone to die prematurely than their uninjured sibling.

If the patient had experienced more than one concussion while young or if the brain injury was more severe than a concussion, the possibility of physical and psychological problems during adulthood increased.

While the results of the study were disconcerting, there was also good news in the report. Not everyone who had a concussion or brain injury as a child or teenager experienced mental or intellectual problems -related to the brain injury - as an adult.

“The majority of individuals who had diagnoses of brain injury in our study did not experience adverse outcomes,” Dr. Fazel says.

Unfortunately, it is impossible at the moment to identify which children or teenagers who experience head trauma may be most at risk of struggling in later life and which will instead recover without apparent complications, he says.

The overall message from this study is that all steps should be taken to prevent childhood head injuries.

If a young person does suffer head trauma, he continues, more and longer-lasting monitoring is also probably a good idea. Such monitoring may be especially important if the child shows any signs of “a decline in psychosocial performance,” Dr. Fazel says, such as a drop in grades or a change, even subtle, in personality. A neurologist can provide useful assessments, and regular follow-up neurological assessments may need to be continued, even into adulthood.

The study was published online in the journal PLOS Medicine.

 Story source: Gretchen Reynolds, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/05/well/move/a-single-concussion-may-have-lasting-impact.html?WT.mc_id=SmartBriefs-Newsletter&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=smartbriefsnl

Your Child

Skin Cancer Risk Higher for Redheaded and Fair Skin Children

1:45

Too much exposure to sunlight can damage the skin, particularly for children who have pale skin, red or fair hair, freckles or the type of skin that sunburns easily. 

Researchers found that having the genes that give you red hair, pale skin and freckles increases your risk of developing skin cancer as much as an extra 21 years of sun exposure.

Their study found gene variants that produce red hair and freckly, fair skin were linked to a higher number of mutations that lead to skin cancers. The researchers said even people with one copy of the crucial MC1R gene - who may be fair-skinned but not have red hair - have a higher risk.

"It has been known for a while that a person with red hair has an increased likelihood of developing skin cancer, but this is the first time that the gene has been proven to be associated with skin cancers with more mutations," said David Adams, who co-led the study at Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

"Unexpectedly, we also showed that people with only a single copy of the gene variant still have a much higher number of tumor mutations than the rest of the population."

Redheads have two copies of a variant of the MC1R gene which affects the type of melanin pigment they produce, leading to red hair, freckles, pale skin and a strong tendency to burn in the sun.

Exposure to ultraviolet light from either the sun or sunbeds causes damage to DNA and scientists think the type of skin pigment linked to redheads may allow more UV to reach the DNA.

In this latest study, the researchers found that while this may be one factor in the damage, there are also others linked to the crucial MC1R gene.

Although skin cancer is rare in children, the amount of sun exposure during childhood is thought to increase the risk of developing skin cancer in adult life. Children who have had episodes of sunburn are more likely to develop skin cancers in later life.

The skin of children is more delicate and more prone to damage. Therefore, take extra care with children, and keep babies out of the sun completely.

Because infants’ skin is so sensitive, it’s better in the first six months to shield them from the sun rather than use sunscreen. It’s especially important to avoid direct sun exposure and seek the shade during the sun’s hours of greatest intensity, between 10 AM and 4 PM. Keep to the shady side of the street on walks, and use the sun shield on your stroller

Once your baby reaches 6 months of age, it’s time to introduce sunscreens. Choose a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen that offers a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. Look at the active ingredients; zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are good choices, because these physical filters don’t rely on absorption of chemicals and are less apt to cause a skin reaction. Test your baby’s sensitivity to the sunscreen first, by applying a small amount on the inside of baby’s wrist.

Toddlers should also be kept in the shade between 10 AM-4 PM. Protect young children with sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing that covers the skin.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Most kids get much of their lifetime sun exposure before age 18, so it's important for parents to teach them how to enjoy fun in the sun safely. Taking the right precautions can greatly reduce your child's chance of developing skin cancer.

Story sources: http://patient.info/health/preventing-skin-cancer

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/07/12/skin-cancer-risk-for-freckly-red-heads-equivalent-to-21-years-in-sun.html

http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/children/oh-baby

 

 

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